A new interaction arithmetic

Some possible characteristics of the CSU’s new GE:

1.  Relationship to work:  It will explicitly accommodate students who are part-time, working, transferring.  It will build GE outcomes into existing employment with things like true work-study.  It will advertise its connection to universal workforce skills.

2.  Structure:  It will incorporate faculty collaboration on research into the lower division.  It will replace the lecture function with interaction and mentoring.

3.  Deeper interaction:  Under the current structure a student interacts with 10-12 professors a year, up to 50 in the typical undergraduate career:

     4 courses X 3 quarters X 4 years = 48 professors

     5 courses X 2 semesters X 4 years = 40 professors

 A faculty member interacts with 100-150 students per term, up to a thousand over four years.

We might benefit from less of this shallow, mass-produced interaction.  Could we get the same costs to deliver fewer, deeper interactions, something that looks more like mentorship and less like speed dating?  If each three-unit course were really nine and lasted longer, we would cut the number of interactions to 1/3:  13-16 professors per student over four years, or 33-50 students per professor each year.

Increasingly, it’s the relationship with the professor that we sell, not the knowledge.  The knowledge is free everywhere.

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2 thoughts on “A new interaction arithmetic

  1. All three characteristics would seem to have positive impacts on students’ educational experiences. I’m especially intrigued by the third suggestion, though. It frames mentoring–which can be life-changing for students–in an entirely new way, but also allows teaching and curriculum to become less fragmented and potentially much more effective. I also think it would add strong motivators to the professor side of the equation: knowing our students and seeing them progress over time, for many of us, is the most gratifying aspect of our profession.

    1. Isn’t it though? Thanks for this comment. I wonder what it would take to move even a little in this direction. Maybe opportunities will appear among the upcoming pilot projects.

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